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The Views on Bravery as Highlighted in The Things They Carried


Throughout war literature, characters of soldiers are essentially exposed. Young men fight and bring out numerous stories and scars from their experiences. For incredible acts of bravery, some soldiers are presented with awards such as the Distinguished Service Cross and the Medal of Honor. In the book The important things They Carried, author Tim O’Brien checks out the value of nerve. A lot of the stories center around a single act of guts or cowardice that determines life or death for a member of the platoon, a civilian, or even an only Vietnamese soldier. These daring deeds do not always embody bravery in the very same sense; almost all of the stories portray a different aspect of it. Although the character of Tim O’Brien stops working to be brave in a few of his anecdotes, he discusses his understanding of audacity and his observations of it worldwides around him. In The Important Things They Brought, author Tim O’Brien describes his newfound understanding of courage; it establishes with experience and is intertwined with fear of death and the apprehension of pity.

Throughout the stories, Tim O’Brien demonstrates the way he learns that guts grows through experience and preparation throughout the stories. In the start of “On the Rainy River,” he informs of the conclusion he reached after the war:” [Courage] pertains to us in finite quantities, like an inheritance, and by being frugal and stashing it away and letting it make interest, we gradually increase our ethical capital in preparation for that day when the account should be drawn down” (43 ). Tim comes to comprehend that courage is built up in experience and can be withdrawn from a person’s internal “account,”, comparable to a bank. In “The Lives of the Dead,” Tim thinks back to 4th grade with his “girlfriend” Linda. When she is bullied by the other young boys in the grade due to the fact that of the hat she uses, Tim “wanted to do something about it, however it just wasn’t possible … so I stood off to the side, simply a spectator, wanting I could do things I could not do” (221 ). Tim remembers this time of cowardice and questions how “if he could not combat little boys, he thought, how could he ever end up being a soldier and battle the Americans with their planes and helicopters and bombs?” (121 ). At this time, when he was initially prepared, he has not yet developed an extensive understanding of the origin of guts and presumes that he is no braver when he is eighteen years old than when he is 9 years of ages. Later on, when he comprehends the meaning of guts, he chooses: “Besides, it doesn’t get a lot easier with time, and twelve years later on, when Vietnam presented much harder choices, some practice at being brave may’ve assisted a little” (221 ). Tim wants he might go back to stand up for Linda and “practice at being brave” so he can some nerve in his bank. After the war and some reflection on his youth, he also recognizes that “if the stakes ever ended up being high enough-if the evil were evil enough, if the good were good enough, I would merely tap a secret tank of nerve that had actually been collecting inside me over the years” (43 ). Tim realizes that courage is not an inflexible spending plan which he can grow it with experience and utilize it in time of need.

O’Brien specifies nerve as something that often comes unexpectedly in the face of death. Close calls with death occur regularly in war, provoking unexpected bravery even from the apparently weak. Tim kills a lone Vietnamese soldier and later on recounts this spontaneous, practically robotic experience: “I had actually currently pulled the pin on the grenade. I had actually come up to a crouch. It was completely automated. I did not dislike the boy; I did not see him as the enemy” (126 ). Tim later exposes that he was “scared of him-afraid of something-and as he passed me on the path I tossed a grenade that blew up at his feet and killed him” (126 ). When he feels threatened by the approaching soldier, he falls into an “automated” subconscious state, where he does a thing that would otherwise require an enormous amount of determination. Kiowa later on informs O’Brien, “The guy would’ve died anyhow. He informed me that it was an excellent kill, that I was a soldier which I ought to shape up and stop staring and ask myself what the dead man would’ve done if things were reversed” (127 ). In this instance, nerve is reflexive. However, the guts that wars trigger can also lead soldiers to do irrational things that they would never have actually done outside the wars. In the narrative “Enemies,” O’Brien tells the story of Dave Jensen and Lee Strunk, Jensen’s missing out on jackknife, and a quiet stress that ultimately drives Jensen to the point where he loses control. After nearly a week of insomnia and preventing being alone with Strunk, he started “shooting his weapon into the air, screaming Strunk’s name, simply shooting and yelling, and it didn’t stop up until he ‘d rattled off an entire magazine of ammunition” (60 ). As ridiculous as this act might appear, it is likewise brave on Jensen’s part. He feels extremely threatened by Lee Strunk and audaciously reacts unlike he ever would outside of war. The war triggers the soldiers to do things they would never ever be brave enough to do otherwise.

O’Brien shows how courage is straight associated to the dread of shame, dishonor, and humiliation. Among the very first circumstances that O’Brien discusses this connection in the short story “The important things They Carried,” when he references the theme of the “blush of dishonor” (20 ). O’Brien mentions that “Guys eliminated, and died, since they were humiliated not to” (20 ). The soldiers in the war are afraid that if they did not battle they would be labeled a “coward” or a “sissy.” When Tim is prepared for the Vietnam War, he faces a comparable concern. In the story On The Rainy River,” he ponders whether he ought to run from the war or fight in it. He believes to himself, “I feared the war, yes, but I likewise feared exile. I hesitated of leaving my own life, my good friends and my family, my entire history, whatever that mattered to me” (42 ). O’Brien is more scared of losing his self-respect and being “exiled” by leaving the war than he is about passing away in it. He envisions townspeople chattering away at the café on Main Street, “coffee cups poised, the conversation slowly zeroing in on the young O’Brien kid, how the damned sissy had actually taken off for Canada” (43 ). O’Brien’s imagine the town avoiding him for being a “damned sissy” if he ranges from the war is powerful enough to change his mind. He informs himself on his method back from the edge of Canada: “I would go to war-I would kill and perhaps die-because I was humiliated not to” (57 ). O’Brien, like other soldiers, was afraid of war, however a lot more scared of issues that might emerge if he did refrain from doing his duty. This example displays how guts often springs from an extreme worry of humiliation.

After the war, Tim O’Brien lastly fully understands how nerve is no set allotment and can be established and consumed; and that guts often develops worry of death and humiliation. Tim collects from his experiences and reflections that characteristic qualities can be recreated and a personality can be changed, specifically in times of great emergency. In the war, soldiers are required to become, or at least pretend to become, entirely various individuals. They typically need to do things they would never do otherwise, which absolutely credits to the modifications in uniqueness. Tim concludes that war, together with other experiences, develops an individual’s supply of nerve so that they can withdraw it when it is required the most.

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